SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— there’s a dining table set at the University of Scranton that serves as a chilling reminder of domestic abuse and as Domestic Abuse Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s important to not just raise awareness — but to remember those we’ve lost along the way.
“We have folks that come every year and people that have never been before,” said director of the Jane Kopas Womens Center at the University of Scranton. “No matter how many times you’ve come, it’s still something that hits hard.”
‘An Empty Place at the Table’ is a Womens Resource Center (WRC) effort hosted by the Jane Kopas center. the event features a long dinner table that grows each year. Every place setting memorializes a fatal victim of domestic abuse.
“It doesn’t quite hit home like seeing that, for instance, this was their cup,” said medical advocacy program coordinator for the WRC Sabrina Hannon. “No one is going to use this cup anymore–there is an empty place at your table.”
Everything from Pokemon cards to Martz Trailways passes and personal mementos illustrates the scope of victims that have died from their abuse.
“It’s tough and it really makes it real,” said Marinucci. “You see that domestic violence doesn’t just impact one person but can impact entire family units and their connections as well.”
With awareness of loved ones lost, comes hope a local spotlight can mean future prevention.
“It really helps connect pieces that this is something that happens everywhere,” said Hannon. “This is something that’s happening locally and maybe you walk through and say to yourself, ‘hey, I know that last name’ or ‘I’ve seen this face before.”
Varying crowds from passers-by to victims families visit, but the table has a profound effect in the university.
“It’s incredibly moving. It’s incredibly difficult and so that’s something that we recognize that some folks on campus have a hard time coming,” added Marinucci. “For students it’s really eye-opening and challenging. It’s really difficult to walk through.”